There probably isn't anyone left in the world who can't hum the theme from Star Trek or who doesn't recognize the opening notes to Star Wars. When music is paired with science fiction, they both go a long way to furthering the impact than either element by itself.
That's a little bit how you might explain Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero, a combination anthology of dark and brooding science fiction short stories that's mated with an accompany CD, which is meant to be played as you read.
This melding of the art of science fiction with musical accompaniment that sets and elevates the mood is the brainchild of John LaSala, an musician and something of an auteur.
It all started when LaSala, an Army brat who has lived all over the world, came across the idea from a friend, who wanted a group of musicians to do the soundtrack for a role-playing game.
The concept just rang a bell with LaSala.
"There is a group of musicians I know and have worked with remotely from all around the world. I acted as the producer and arranger for these bits of music," he said. "We had this great crop of music, and we needed to find something to do with it."
He talked it over with his brother, Jeff LaSala, who had just published his novel, The Darkwood Mask, and they both hit on the idea of using the soundtrack to accompany a selection of stories.
"Me, my brother, and my partner Bilian from Long Island - I call him Bil - had already laid out the music. Jeff had contacts with a bunch of people who could write stories based on preexisting music," LaSala said.
"It set the stage for an unusual order - the music before the stories."
Bringing the concept to fruition wasn't for the feint of heart. The whole project with around 30 collaborators spanning the globe took three years to bring to market, and there were a million steps and some serious money spent along the way.
"While the stories were being written, the music was being mixed and finalized. We commissioned the cover art from an illustrator, and we also had an illustration done for each story and track on the CD," LaSala said.
During the years it took to knit the project together, LaSala kept his dayjob as a custom framer in Summit. His partner Kate handled the business side of things. "She coordinates the logistics. She sets up the contracts, does the legal stuff," he said.
Even fundraising was a collaborative effort. They raised almost $14,000 through Kickstarter, where people who believed in the effort donated various amounts and received swag and a lot of gratitude for their money.
In November, 2010, they got the seed money they needed from 83 backers. A good chunk of that change went to the illustrator, LaSala said.
The book was officially released in February, with a Hoboken printer doing the work with the Foreshadows staff overseeing production.
You'd think they'd be selling it on Amazon, but you'd be wrong. LaSala said simply that the amount of money Amazon wants is cost-prohibitive for a book and CD selling for $36.
"In the beginning, we're selling it through our website. It's inevitable it'll wind up on Amazon," LaSala said. "The downside of Amazon is that unless you are a big company, the cut you get is pretty miniscule. They take a minimum of 55 percent. It's sells at a loss."
Right now the group behind the book, the Very Us Artists, are selling the book and CD combo, and several special editions, through their website.
"It's not that we are done, and we can sit back and relax. Now we have to sell it," LaSala said. "All we can do is to tell our friends and tell our friends to tell their friends."
And use social media, he added.
"It's true multimedia. There is no real strong precedent for anything like this. We're trying to make a great product," he said. "I think we succeeded."